Dave Sharma says Lib­er­als 'do­ing enough' on cli­mate after Hew­son at­tack

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Anne Davies

The Lib­eral can­di­date for Went­worth, Dave Sharma, said his party is “do­ing enough” and has “a good record” on cli­mate change, after a blis­ter­ing at­tack from for­mer leader John Hew­son, who said the party de­served a “drub­bing” over its in­ac­tion on the is­sue.

Hew­son told Guardian Aus­tralia that Lib­eral vot­ers have a unique op­por­tu­nity: regis­ter a protest now and re­turn to the party at the gen­eral elec­tion in six months’ time.

“I ob­vi­ously dis­agree with John Hew­son on this,” the trea­surer, Josh Fry­den­berg, said as he cam­paigned with Sharma at an op­tometrist’s shop in Rose Bay on Wed­nes­day, where the theme seemed to be some­thing about “vi­sion”.

Fry­den­berg said a vote for an in­de­pen­dent in Went­worth was as good as a vote for the La­bor party.

“It will bring un­cer­tainty to the par­lia­ment and it will bring Bill Shorten one step closer to The Lodge,” Fry­den­berg said.

Sharma also re­jected Hew­son’s assess­ment that the Lib­eral pol­icy on cli­mate change was inad­e­quate.

“I do think we are do­ing enough and I do think we have had a good record on cli­mate change. Emis­sions are at their low­est lev­els in 28 years,” he said. Sharma was re­fer­ring to emis­sions as a pro­por­tion of GDP not ab­so­lute emis­sions. “We are on track to meet the Paris com­mit­ments and I be­lieve we will ad­dress the Paris com­mit­ments and we will be ad­dress­ing af­ford­abil­ity and sus­tain­able and co­her­ent en­ergy pol­icy,” he said.

Hew­son has ac­cused the Lib­er­als of putting their heads in the sand on the is­sue and kick­ing the is­sue down the road for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The for­mer prime min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull dropped plans for a na­tional en­ergy guar­an­tee that would have im­posed emis­sions re­duc­tion tar­gets and then was dumped by his own party, which was deeply di­vided over his plan.

Fry­den­berg de­fended the govern­ment’s record. He said emis­sions on a per capita GDP ba­sis have come down to their low­est level in 28 years.

But the econ­omy has been grow­ing and so too have over­all emis­sions.

Aus­tralia is on a tra­jec­tory that will see it miss its Paris cli­mate tar­gets – a re­duc­tion of 26% to 28% based on 2005 lev­els – ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the con­sul­tants, NDEVR En­vi­ron­men­tal, for the year up to the end of June 2018.

The NDVER fig­ures showed Aus­tralia’s emis­sions were again the high­est on record when un­re­li­able data from the land use and forestry sec­tors was ex­cluded. This was the third con­sec­u­tive year for record-break­ing emis­sions.

De­spite this, Fry­den­berg claimed that the na­tion is on track to meet its Paris com­mit­ments – even with­out the Neg, which he had sup­ported. He also lauded the Coali­tion’s record on in­vest­ment in re­new­ables.

“Re­new­able en­ergy in­vest­ment has never been higher in Aus­tralia. Never been higher. Twenty per cent of Aus­tralian homes have so­lar pan­els on their roofs. We’ve seen large-scale re­new­able projects. We’ve got Snowy Hy­dro, the largest pumped hy­dro fa­cil­ity in the south­ern hemi­sphere,” he said.

“These are Coali­tion achieve­ments. These are Coali­tion ini­tia­tives. These are things that we should be proud of, rather than the rhetoric and the reck­less tar­gets and poli­cies of La­bor and the Greens,” he said.

Asked about the IPCC re­port this week, which called for coal gen­er­a­tion to be phased out by 2050 or the world would be fac­ing a catas­tro­phe, Fry­den­berg said it was their word, not ours.

“Our pol­icy is you need to do it in a way to re­duce your car­bon foot­print in a way that is cost ef­fec­tive and that pays para­mount im­por­tance to what the im­pact on the busi­nesses and the house­holds that rely on their en­ergy for their sus­tain­abil­ity, for their vi­a­bil­ity,” he said.

He said coal and gas would need to re­main part of the en­ergy mix. Sharma did not of­fer an opin­ion.

Pho­to­graph: Anne Davies for the Guardian

The trea­surer, Josh Fry­den­berg, and the Lib­eral can­di­date for Went­worth, Dave Sharma, have de­fended the party’s cli­mate change record.

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